It is the tradition at Eater to end the year with a survey of friends, contributors, rovers of the industry, and professional eaters. Even a year like this one. For 2020, the group were asked 13 questions, covering the best meals and the worst tweets alongside community responses, and coronavirus pivots. Their answers will appear throughout this week, with responses related in no particular order; cut and pasted below.
Having surveyed the best meals, the best delivery, the most memorable moments, the proudest pivots, the saddest closures, and the most exciting reopenings to look forward to next year, it’s time to discuss the most promising newcomers of this year, a year like no other — of delayed and few openings.
Adam Coghlan, Editor, Eater London: Pollo Feliz(‘s evolution into Sonora Taqueira); the long-awaited arrival of Anna Tobias at Cafe Deco; Asma Khan’s evolution of Darjeeling Express; the long-awaited arrival of Santiago Lastra at KOL; Pam Yung and James Lowe’s category defining ASAP Pizza; Mangal 2 turning into Mangal 2 2.0; and, amazing though it is that opening took place in 2020, Chuku’s, whose owners Emeka and Ifeyinwa Frederick I hope get a free run at uninterrupted trade sooner rather than later.
James Hansen, Associate Editor, Eater London: Cafe Deco, Sonora, ASAP, Chishuru, the Prufrock reboot.
Anna Sulan Masing, food writer and Eater London contributor: Decatur — I say this as someone who has not been able to score Chargrilled Oyster & Shrimp Boi, but dear god I want it!! 2021 will be my year! Spoons, Rahel’s Sunday night Indonesian vegan food delivery meals.
Jonathan Nunn, food writer and Eater London contributor: Cafe Deco and Chishuru. One long expected newcomer, opened by old hands and one which came out of nowhere. Whenever I go to a restaurant I always think ‘is this chef really cooking what they want to cook?’. Some chefs never do, but Anna Tobias and Joké Bakare are cooking precisely what they want to cook and having fun with it. There’s no bigger compliment than that.
Chris Cotonou, writer and Eater London contributor: Alex’s Cypriot Sandwiches and Soups. I’m perhaps their biggest fan, owing to their Cypriot zestosantouitz (hot halloumi and lounza ham sandwich), their imported products, and the way it has become a much-needed Greek Cypriot community hotspot.
Sejal Sukhadwala, food writer and Eater London contributor: I was pleased that the imaginative vegetarian restaurant Oliveira in Richmond opened a branch in Shoreditch (I think before the first lockdown), and has plans to open another in Chiswick. The Richmond venue is owned by a talented and dedicated chef with strong views on ecology and the environment; it will be interesting to see what new ideas and menu changes the expansion will bring.
George Reynolds, food writer and Eater London contributor: The revamped Mangal 2 is different enough from the prevamped Mangal 2 that I can safely call it a newcomer: the bones of the room are the same, but the subtle alchemy that has been wrought on the menu — stripping away some stuff, adding in new and thrilling takes on contemporary Turkish food — extends out into the whole spirit of the place. Based purely on a single meal there in November I can safely say that Sertaç Dirik is the chef I’m most excited to see more of in 2021; when you add in the tongue-in-cheek but deeply hospitable front-of-house led by Sertaç’s brother Ali you have all the ingredients for what I hope will be one of next year’s most-visited restaurants for me.
Shekha Vyas, food writer and Eater London contributor: Cafe Deco, Sollip, Darjeeling Express — but also, more than a newcomer it was great to learn about another neighbourhood full of exciting places, namely Old Kent Road!
Gemma Croffie, writer and Eater London contributor: Akoko finally opening was exciting.
Ed Cumming, writer and restaurant critic: Big Jo, mainly because it is three minutes walk away.
Feroz Gajia, restaurateur and Eater London contributor: 2020 was the year for actually good tortillas in London, but what excited me the most was when I first ate Joké’s food at Chishuru. To find someone with a defined sense of their cooking and using that ability to craft intelligent, beautiful and exceptionally delicious food all while being a consummate host just had me shaking my head, how does she do it. Any other year the momentum would have snowballed very quickly, but in 2020 she like the whole industry endured a constant Sisyphean task. On the sweet side, Philippe Conticini’s return to London and the surprise of Cafe Kitsune being good were exciting, maybe there are finally enough people in London to appreciate great patisserie?
Daisy Meager, food writer and Eater London contributor: Not strictly newcomers, but I’ve loved seeing Ifeyinwa and Emeka Frederick of Chuku’s open their first permanent site in Tottenham and receive such glowing, richly deserved reviews. It’s been wonderful watching the restaurant grow from doing pop-ups around four years ago.
Angela Hui, food writer and Eater London contributor: ASAP Pizza, Cafe Deco, Nasi London, Chishuru, Five Friends Dessert, Big Jo, Mr. Ji’s, Willy’s Pies.
David J Paw, food writer and Eater London contributor: Chishuru feels like a gamechanger.